Audio Technica ATH-GDL3 review: The lightest gaming headset I’ve ever worn

Quick verdict: The ATH-GDL3’s super-light, stylish and comfortable design is incredibly appealing, but its sound profile might not be for everyone.

Pros

  • Really comfortable and breathable
  • Super lightweight
  • Unique design
Cons

  • Audio can be harsh in the high end
  • Wired only
  • Physical controls a bit too small

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Gaming headsets can often be loud and garish affairs. They're often big and bulky with hard edges, LED lighting and bright neon colours. Sometimes it can be a lot to plonk all that gamer-fashion on your noggin for extended play sessions.

Audio Technica takes a far simpler, lighter and more comfortable approach with its new ATH-GDL3 wired gaming headset.

Design

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

The headset is compatible with both PCs and game consoles, coming with a dedicated cable for each. It also comes with a detachable boom mic that snugly plugs into the left-hand side of the unit.

It's a really simple plug-and-play design, so that's about all you'll get in terms of features. It does have a volume wheel and a mute toggle on the back for your microphone; however, it took me a bit of practice to actually find them while I was gaming. They're both just a bit too small to use efficiently.

I personally love the look of these. The white plastic body and black details give it a stormtrooper aesthetic that I really dig.

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

I tried the open-backed design, which lets you see the inner workings of the headphones from the outside – always a cool touch in my book. There is another very similar closed-back version available as well.

Both designs don't scream "pro-gamer" like a lot of the other gaming headsets on the market and look really natural when worn as a regular pair of headphones with the microphone removed. If you need a gaming headset at home but don't want to out yourself as a huge nerd at the office, these will perform both roles nicely.

My absolute favourite thing about these though? They weigh less than 220 grams.
They still clamp down with enough force that they're not going to fly off your head, but due to their weight, you're able to wear them for extended periods of time without really noticing they are there. It's just an all-around comfortable experience.


Performance

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

You won't find skull-shattering bass in these headphones as it's often overpowered by the highs and mids. High frequencies in particular seem to be way more pronounced compared to other headsets I've tried, and it can sometimes intrude on the rest of the audio. This was particularly apparent in snare heavy tracks and music with lots of instruments. The highs get a little overpowering and seem to eat into the overall clarity of a track.

This actually makes these headphones pretty perfect for first-person shooter gaming though as it highlights the kinds of sounds you want to be alerted to the most, such as footsteps and gunshots. The trade-off is if you have a particularly screechy friend on comms or are running into annoying players in chat. It might become a little bit too much for your ears. I'm particularly sensitive to those kinds of sounds, so a few times I just had to turn these right down.

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

For console play, I ended up pairing these with the Turtle Beach Recon controller, which I have reviewed in a previous article and video.

After playing with the controller's 4 EQs a bit, I found the sound to be much more pleasing to listen to. If you can find a second device to pair these with that helps dial down that harshness in the highs a bit, I think you've got a really capable little headset on your hands.

The microphone is pretty standard for a headset in this price range. It has a heavy amount of digital processing going on, but you can hear voices come through really well. It's also super directional so does a really great job of cancelling out unwanted sounds like keyboards and dogs barking. You just need to make sure you have it pointed at your mouth.

Check the video at the top of this page to hear it in action.


Should you buy the Audio Technica ATH-GDL3?

  • Buy it if you're looking for a comfortable and lightweight headset that doesn't scream gamer.
  • Don't buy it if you're sensitive to higher frequency sounds or are buying these as your only pair of headphones.

Overall, I think there are better sounding headsets out there for cheaper, with better onboard controls. A few even come with Bluetooth. The Audio Technica ATH-GDL3 headphones are wired only.

However, if you are mainly on the hunt for something that is comfortable and lightweight, looks great and doesn't look like most other gaming headsets, you'll absolutely love owning these.

product review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder


Pricing and availability


Specifications

Audio Technica ATH GDL3

Build

Wired/Wireless
Wired
Weight
220g
Frequency Response
10 to 35,000 Hz
Microphone Type
Boom

Connectivity

Cable length
3m

Features

Detachable Microphone
Yes

How we tested

The ATH-GDL3 was tested over 2 weeks as a daily gaming headset and for general media viewing.

It was provided to Tobias by Audio Technica for this review and the video linked above.


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